Alabama football: Star safety turned cornerback headlines spring practice

Welcome to The Rammer Jammer, SEC Country’s daily Alabama athletics recap. Today, we look at a position change for Minkah Fitzpatrick.

There are two units that emerge from spring practice with position switches every season without fail: offensive line and the secondary. Players lost to the NFL or graduation aren’t replaced by freshman plug-and-play players, but by more experienced and versatile players who plied their trade at other spots. This year, the biggest of those position changes will be a more unusual one, as safety Minkah Fitzpatrick practices with the first team as a cornerback.

Fitzpatrick said he feels more comfortable at cornerback despite his stints at safety and star in his first two seasons. I wouldn’t have placed him at that position, for several reasons: He occasionally struggles against shifty receivers in 1-on-1 man coverage and his instincts and athleticism suit him well at free safety, but coach Nick Saban loves to put his cornerbacks on an island in coverage and Fitzpatrick’s abilities might be the best option with Marlon Humphrey gone to the NFL.

ICYMI

  • The best long read of the week: defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley’s background in broadcast journalism — inspired by his love for Stuart Scott — helps today.
  • Aaron Suttles’ practice report centers on technical drills and the usual shuffling on the offensive line.
  • Brian Daboll is beginning to make his presence felt on the practice field.
  • Center Bradley Bozeman likes to run. Same.
  • What does Saban expect from his early spring practices?
  • Part of the goal is psychological progress after the devastating loss to Clemson. The Process, one day at a time, be where your feet are, etc.
  • Explaining that high school camps rule that set Nick Saban off Thursday.

Built by Bama

It’s not often that an undrafted wide receiver goes on to a successful NFL career, but former Alabama returner and wideout Christion Jones is pushing for just that this week in Arizona. Jones is benefitting from the NFL’s renewed interest in bringing experienced players back into the league as a guest at the inaugural NFL Pro Player Combine. Jones had a brief stint with the Miami Dolphins before jumping to the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL.

AL.com takeslinger Joseph Goodman has a nice story about Julio Jones being patient after he called him a New England Patriot.

In the golf, Trey Mullinax, newly married, is in the lead at the Puerto Rico Open at 9-under 63. He leads by a stroke after the first round.

And the final outs of the United States’ World Baseball Classic championship were recorded by former Alabama man David Robertson.

Around the Capstone

The women’s basketball team continues its postseason run. Kristy Curry’s squad advanced to the Elite 8 of the NIT on Thursday night, easily handling a Tulane team that never led. It’s the best run for the team in 16 years. The Crimson Tide will take on Georgia Tech, who they beat earlier in the season, 67-65, despite a late rally from the Yellow Jackets.

The No. 9 softball team will host South Carolina this weekend, a prime chance to extend its lead in the SEC after a rally at Mississippi State last week powered by junior Sydney Booker’s slump-breaking bat. South Carolina is 1-5 in conference so far and 20-10 overall. With struggles at the plate, South Carolina will have its work cut out putting runs up against one of the best rotations in the country.

The baseball team will travel to the Gamecocks, where the roles will be reversed. The South Carolina baseball team is ranked No. 7 nationally and have won eight straight.

The men’s swim team is up against it after the 400 medley relay, one of the Crimson Tide’s strongest events, was disqualified for a turn violation. It responded by finishing fifth in the 200 relay, a strong result after a weak performance in the preliminary round. Alabama is in 14th place, with five events to come on the third day, beginning at 9 a.m. CT.

Four gymnasts were named to the all-SEC teams. 

Men’s tennis will travel to Georgia this weekend.

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